I guess I'll start at the beginning. Our decision to take our son, Nolan, with us was decided when returned to first time from Germany. We were very excited to share this experience with him. But, being like a mom, I knew there would be two outcomes to this venture.
#1: Nolan would break down at the airport, on the airplane, at baseball camp and he would have to worst time of his life
#2: Nolan would love every minute and be able to handle all situations.
Thank God he leaned more to Scenario #2.
My biggest relief came when we boarded our first flight. It was a connecting flight that went to Atlanta, Georgia. It was Nolan's first flight ever and I was expecting a meltdown. We got on the plane, buckled up and took off with no problem. Then...the turbulence started. Being a grown-up, the first thing that came to mind was that we were going to crash and burn. I was worried Nolan was going to think the same thing. I looked at him and he said with the biggest smile on his face, "This is awesome!" Crisis #1 averted.
We were blessed to stay with the same family that we did last year, so it was easy to fall in to the same routine that we had the previous summer.
It wasn't all smooth sailing those first few days though. We did a lot of sight-seeing a LOT of walking and the time change messed up Nolan's internal clock. One of the first nights we were there it was almost midnight and he's crying in bed, saying he's not tired. But the look on his face was telling me he was about to pass out any minute. He spent the next morning sleeping in and playing with our host mom, Barbara and baby Mia. He was in heaven playing with Duplo blocks. This extra time to himself help Greg and I in more ways than one.
At Baseball Camp, we were blessed with another great team. Go Cubs! We had two players on our team from the previous year, and it was great to have them on the team again. The baseball practices were great, some minor hiccups, but overall couldn't have asked for better. The Team Times (where we discuss Jesus and our relationship with Him) seemed to be much tougher this year, which was a great thing! The discussions we had were really great and it was nice to talk to these wonderful kids.
The biggest blessing of all was how nice and wonderful everyone was towards Nolan. I never expected how caring and loving everyone would be towards him. He was always taken care of even if it wasn't by me or Greg. He always had a watchful eye on him. They gave him (sometimes secretly) soda, gummies and candy. It made him feel special, and it warmed my heart to see that they were trying to befriend him. He left with many great relationships, and new buddies. It's so sweet to see that he sleeps with a bear (a Cub, get it?) every night that one of our team members gave him. I never thought that God would work through Nolan to build these relationships, but He does work in wondrous ways!
After Baseball Camp the Siegburg Church gave us the gift of two sight-seeing days around Germany. We went to Aachen, a mustard factory, a glass-blowing factory and a great small village with an awesome Christmas Store. I could probably fill up ten posts describing all the beautiful churches, cities and sculptures we saw, but I'll leave that for another time.
Some things that I learned this year in Germany:
1. Nolan will only eat candy, bread, nutella and "american" cereal.
2. Bring an extra pair of shoes for Nolan b/c he literally wore a hole in his other pair walking so much
3. Bring warmer clothes! We had wonderful weather last year, but weren't lucky this year. Tons of rain and pretty chilly too!
4. Movies on a tablet to keep a small child occupied is awesome!
5. It IS possible to do a "Trust Fall" with teenagers...no one was dropped!
6. American DVD's don't work in German DVD players. Weird, right?
7. You will be stopped at customs for bringing a large statue in to the US. (It was actually a nutcracker)
8. Little children DO get patted down at the airport. Super weird and super awkward, but it didn't bother Nolan one bit.
9. Ice cream eaten overlooking the Rhein River is the best kind :)
10. I want to go back again next year!!
I feel as though I have only written a small fraction of all the things that happened. I wish I could describe ever wonderful thing that happened, but there isn't enough time in the day for that. Some pictures are below:
Plane ride. Ready to go!
In front of the Dom in Koln
A neat water feature in Koln. Trying not to get wet.
A bridge with locks on it to signify relationships.
Nolan up to bat
The Human KnotHave a great day!